South Korea and China are holding top level talks, the the first such interaction since the new coronavirus emerged in China late last year. Communist Party Politburo member Yang Jiechi was meeting South Korea's new national security adviser Suh Hoon in the southern port city of Busan to discuss coronavirus cooperation, bilateral relations and the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula, the South Korean government said.

The high-level talks come in the backdrop of strained bilateral relations and stalled denuclearisation negotiations involving North Korea.

Xi Jinping
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Xi's Visit to South Korea

Reuters reported that Suh, who became the top security job last month after serving as intelligence chief, was to discuss North Korea, coronavirus cooperation and a potential trip to Seoul by Chinese President Xi Jinping, presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok said this week.

South Korea's Moon Jae-in sworn in
South Korea President Moon Jae-in waves to neighborhood residents as he arrives at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea May 10, 2017. Reuters

Yang did not respond to a question, ahead of the meeting, on whether Xi might visit this year, according to a pool report. The two countries resumed exchanges last month when Seoul sent a high-level diplomat for a bilateral economic meeting.

South Korea had largely managed to bring the first COVID-19 outbreak outside of China under control without major disruptions, but recent surges in cases prompted authorities to re-impose tighter distancing rules.

South Korea reported 332 new coronavirus infections as of midnight Friday, of which 315 were domestic, taking the country's tally to 17,002 with 309 death.